AVS Forum banner
1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Blu-ray Reviewer
Joined
·
15,121 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·


The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

88






Studio and Year: Universal - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Genre: Comedy

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Fred Melamed, George Wyner, Adam Arkin, Simon Helberg,
Written & Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Music by: Carter Burwell
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 9, 2010







"Are you serious?"



Film Synopsis:


Academy Award®-winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen return to their comedy roots with this original and darkly humorous story about one ordinary man's quest to become a serious man. Physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) can't believe his life: His wife is leaving him for his best friend, his unemployed brother won't move off the couch, someone is threatening his career, his kids are a mystery and his neighbor is tormenting him by sunbathing nude. Struggling

to make sense of it all, Larry consults three different rabbis and their answers lead him on a twisted journey of faith, family, delinquent behavior and mortality.




My Take:


The brief definition of the word crisis: a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life. This would appropriately describe the life of Larry Gopnik in A serious man. It's Minnesota in 1967. Larry Gopnik is Jewish and a sort of nebbish type that works at the local university, is married with two teenage children, and has his sickly brother, Arthur, living with him. Larry is up for tenure at work, however one of the board members infers to him that the recent receipt of anonymous letters casting Larry in a questionable light, shouldn't affect his consideration. Larry's wife Judith has announced that she wants a divorce, and that she wants him to move out and her new beau Sy to move in. His teenage children could care less, other than regularly pilfering from his wallet or only showing interest in him when it is time to adjust the aerial so that F Troop comes in clearly. Larry is being threatened with a lawsuit by the parent of a Korean student because he defamed him with a failing grade. With the world closing in Larry looks to his faith for support and seeks the counsel of three rabbis. Unfortunately Larry's search for spiritual answers is less than satisfying and he must look to his heart.

I am a fan of many Coen Brothers films, among my favorites is Fargo, O'Brother where art thou, and No country for old men. Quite honestly I knew nothing of this film going into this review. A serious man is unconventional, unpredictable and at times irreducibly bizarre in its seemingly oblique satire. It's ethnically characterized but not in an offensive way as those elements although integral remains primarily unadulterated by its darker comedic tone. I must admit that there were times that I found myself trying to find the humor in the story. I didn't understand the need for the strange opening segment nor did I care for the ending. On the other hand I did appreciate the subtle albeit outrageous moments of facetiousness that are most decidedly The Coen Brothers style. I liked the idea of using a blend of new faces mixed with many familiar character actors among the cast. I was particularly impressed with Richard Kind's portrayal of Arthur Gopnik. This is my first experience with Michael Stuhlbarg but I must say he gave a wonderful performance that anchored them all. When it was over I found myself a bit indifferent, but with a desire to revisit this film. I have always found that Coen Brothers films often require repeat viewings to glean the most from them and suspect that this is no different. There is no denying that A serious man is a memorable film regardless of whether you liked it or not. Its potential lies in its dark comedic narrative that exfoliates the turbulent human condition experienced by one man striving to be serious.








Parental Guide:


The rating is for language, some sexuality/nudity, drug content, and brief violence.





AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


Audio: 82


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:




Video: 94


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

A serious man comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 mbps.

This is a reference quality high definition transfer that looks spectacular. Images are transparent with exquisite detail and a near infinite sense of depth. Close ups and mid level shots are incredibly detailed and revealing of even the subtlest nuance visible within facial features, clothing, and objects/backgrounds within the frame. Fidelity is never in question regardless of perspective. At times I found the visuals onscreen to be breath taking. Colors are kept within the scope of the time frame which means lots of browns, grays, greens and blacks. The splashes of bright oranges and yellows provide a welcomed respite and pop nicely. The delineated sepia toned colors have a succulent quality that reveals subtle gradations and enhances depth. Skin tones are vibrant, tonally rich and chock full of fine textural nuance. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which helps them pop during sequences that contained both light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments (such as in the Jolly Roger hotel room) reveals discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. Grain is present and maintains a filmic textural essence that presides over the presentation without intrusion. I found this to be an impressive and pristine quality high definition video presentation from Universal.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack yields crisp, well textured dialogue that renders even subtle variances in tonal character or vocal inflections clearly. The music featured throughout the film exhibits high level, smooth treble and appreciable refinement. The audio presentation is delivered across the front soundstage with intermittent splashes of ambience through the rear channels that broaden the sound field. Surround use isn't prevalent but atmospheric effects and occasional panning sequences create a believable listening environment that blends well with the front three channels. There isn't a lot of bass associated with this soundtrack but the mix generates palpable low frequencies when applied.



Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Becoming serious - 17 minute featurette

  • (HD) Creating 1967 - 13 minute production featurette

  • (HD) Hebrew & Yiddish for Goys - 2 minute feature

  • BD-Live enabled - Allows sharing of favorite scenes with friends, downloading trailer and more





Final Thoughts:


A serious man is a dark, unconventional comedy from the minds of the Coen Brothers. Those familiar with their films will have more of an appreciation for its unique offbeat narrative which is capable of deriving humor from chaos via expose involving the human condition. While I didn't fully connect with it there is potential to be found which leaves me eager to give it another spin. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Home Entertainment featuring superlative high definition video, commendable DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound and a sparse bonus feature set that left me wanting. A serious man on Blu-ray Disc comes highly recommended for fans but I would urge those not familiar with it to rent first.















Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen

Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)

Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,763 Posts
I did not understand this movie at all. There were some really funny parts, but most of the film I was bored with. I think I just didn't grasp the concept at all. What did the first few minutes of the A Serious Man have to do with the rest of the film? I must have totally missed the meaning of the film.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,947 Posts
The Cohens have always been hit and miss with me, but I'm looking forward to seeing this one. Netflix should send it too me next week, hopefully.


Thx for the review, Ralph!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,708 Posts
When watching this film I was very confused with the Jewish folklore and references, but I have to say that once it was over I was thinking about what happened an awful lot for the next few days. I think the theme is "do good" or else face dire consequences.
 

·
Blu-ray Reviewer
Joined
·
15,121 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn /forum/post/18088167


When watching this film I was very confused with the Jewish folklore and references, but I have to say that once it was over I was thinking about what happened an awful lot for the next few days. I think the theme is "do good" or else face dire consequences.

Greetings,


Perhaps. Although the Coen's admit that the film's opening had no connection to the story...strange.


Regards,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,227 Posts
I really liked this one.


One of the better Cohen's movies, I think - but then, I never got the appeal of Fargo....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,190 Posts
Mixed reviews on this one as what others have said. You either connect with it or you don't. Personally there were certain funny parts and others scenes left me dumbdfounded. I'd personally give this one a rent.


Cheers
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,816 Posts
I really didn't enjoy it at all. I didn't get the Jewish folklore and references went over my head. Also, the start and ending left me cold as well. Thanks to netfix for not shipping it out and forcing me to waste $20 on it. I LOVE most of the Coen brothers films but not this one. I only wish Fargo looked this good as the pq is stunning.
 

·
Blu-ray Reviewer
Joined
·
15,121 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan /forum/post/18108945


I really didn't enjoy it at all. I didn't get the Jewish folklore and references went over my head. Also, the start and ending left me cold as well. Thanks to netfix for not shipping it out and forcing me to waste $20 on it. I LOVE most of the Coen brothers films but not this one. I only wish Fargo looked this good as the pq is stunning.

Greetings,


Sorry about that Tom..




Regards,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,816 Posts
I need to read your reviews before I make a blind buy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
368 Posts
I liked the movie (mostly) up until the end....sometimes a movie's ending can be so good that it makes a lame movie good......or sometimes a movie's ending can be so bad (this one) that it makes an enjoyable movie horrible
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
For anyone who may not know, this movie is loosely based on the story of Job. The movie made a lot more sense to me when I took it as that. The abrupt ending was a little bit strange for me too but it is the Coen brothers. No Country for Old Men had a pretty ambiguous ending itself.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,292 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts /forum/post/18088263


Greetings,


Perhaps. Although the Coen's admit that the film's opening had no connection to the story...strange.

They often do stuff like that. Like the hat rolling around in MILLER'S CROSSING...had nothing to do with anything, by their own admission.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,946 Posts
This film is what my wife calls a "slice of life" type film. Nothing, other than life events, happens and the end is that life goes on with more events happening to the characters.


She hates this type of movie as it provides no resolution. Issues faced are replaced by new issues and the characters go on.


I have more patience with this type of film and enjoyed this one.


Here is a guy with book smarts galore who has been a good member of his community (Jewish, in this case). He has done all the right things in life but things are coming apart at the seams.


Seeking help only adds to the frustration - lawyers drive you into debt; religious leaders just provide gobbly ****. In the end, you just go on.


Film makers all go back to their roots. The Coens did this here, celebrating their heritage, while showing that it has the same issues that other cultures have.


If you like or dislike the plot, you will definitely love the pq. Blu-rays don't come looking any better than this. Detail and natural sharpness in spades. Colors and skin tones are spot on. The classic cars shown in the film look better than they probably did when they rolled off the showroom floor.


Rent first. Buy if the film snags your interest. If you like the film, it will be tough to pinpoint what you liked about it (other than the visuals), but it does get to you by showing life's struggle and frustration.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,428 Posts
This film just left me feeling completely puzzled and shaking my head.

I didn't get the relevance of the beginning and was equally stumped by the ending.

There where some good scenes and acting but as a whole, this film didn't do anything for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,946 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by JJHXBR /forum/post/18189669


This film just left me feeling completely puzzled and shaking my head.

I didn't get the relevance of the beginning and was equally stumped by the ending.

There where some good scenes and acting but as a whole, this film didn't do anything for me.

The film makers admitted in one of the extras that the beginning segment didn't have anything to do with the story. They compared it to the old days when you got to see a cartoon before the movie. The cartoon wasn't related to the content of the movie.


Seems like a strange choice to me, but I wasn't advising on the film. It may have had more relevance to the Jewish audience, as the 1st part of the film was in Yiddish.


The end was quite a surprise, but did convey that the issues we are concerned with day after day may not be such a big deal in the end. There are always worse things possible and they might be right around the corner (or on the other end of the phone).


Definitely not a film for everybody.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,347 Posts
I enjoy most films that I watch (150-200 per year), but this one had me shaking my head. It was a waste of time.


The story didn't go anywhere, and the ending was ridiculous. The Coen brothers seem to be intentionally tempting the limit of what fans will accept as a good film. The character relationships didn't make much sense, and the beginning of the film was intentionally disconnected from the main story line. I was unable to connect with any of the story, not because of the heavy Jewish themed plot, but because the story, or lack thereof, was blah.


Not recommended.


PQ 4 out of 5, SQ 3.5 out of 5, Film: 1.5 out of 5


Dan
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top